Because their shape allows for layering, mason jars are a great way to prepare meals in advance that will remain fresh overnight in the fridge. Make this already simple meal assembly even easier by having vegetables chopped and ready to go in meal prep containers in your fridge. The jars also provide a spill-proof, durable container that you can take with you to work or school, and on a weekend hike!
These meals are simple and flexible. You can loosely follow the recipes below, changing ingredients and quantities to fit your specific meal plan, and even tweak the amounts in your meal planning program to achieve your nutritional goals without changing the flavor of the meal too much.
Fruit and Yogurt Parfait
For a quick and filling breakfast, layer plain yogurt or skyr with berries and chopped nuts in a pint jar. For added flavor without added sugar, mix some cinnamon in with the yogurt. Cinnamon has demonstrated the ability to lower blood sugar in prediabetic and type 2 diabetic individuals, as noted in this 2011 meta analysis published in the Journal of Medicinal Food. This should help you start your day on an even keel.
Portable Breakfast Frittata
When you think of mason jar breakfasts, you may not think of eggs, but this recipe could change your mind. In a large bowl, crack two eggs for every eight ounce mason jar you plan to fill, then take your pick of the vegetables you already have in meal prep containers in your fridge—mushrooms, onions, chopped greens, peppers, etc. Add some cheese and whatever seasoning you’d like, then scramble. Lightly coat the inside of each jar with butter or oil, then divide the egg mixture evenly and bake. Reheat before diving in!
Layer a half cup of black beans, a half cup of brown rice, and a quarter cup of corn. Toss in some chopped red onion, cheddar cheese, avocado and salsa to taste. Fill the remainder of the jar with shredded lettuce, and you’ve got the elements of a delicious burrito without the bulky wrap.
Add in a half cup of grape tomatoes and two ounces of chopped fresh mozzarella to the bottom of a quart jar. Drizzle balsamic vinegar and a high quality extra virgin olive oil over this mixture before sprinkling chopped fresh basil and cracked pepper. Fill the rest of the jar with chopped romaine lettuce, and you’re good to go!
Layer seasoned ground meat with mixed vegetables and garlicky mashed potatoes for a portable version of this comfort classic. For a lighter twist, try a cauliflower mash in place of mashed potatoes. Warm up the jar before diving into this hearty meal!
Grapefruit and Avocado Chicken Salad
At the bottom of a quart jar, layer a half cup of avocado with a half cup of grapefruit segments, cut in half. Crack some fresh black pepper over the fruit and sprinkle some chopped red onion, then add a serving of cubed grilled chicken to the jar. Fill the rest of the jar with chopped kale. When this salad is dumped into a bowl and mixed thoroughly, the grapefruit and avocado combine to form a tasty dressing.
Spicy Soba Noodle Salad
Add a quarter cup of peanut sauce to the bottom of a pint jar, and layer a serving of soba noodles on top. Next, top with a half cup of fresh edamame pods. Fill the rest of the jar with strips of carrot and red bell pepper. Sprinkle chopped scallions over top, and it’s ready to go! The sauce will soak into the noodles, so they’re even more delicious when you do finally mix up your lunch.
Salmon and Feta Salad
At the bottom of a quart jar, layer Greek dressing with a serving of chilled cooked salmon and a serving of crumbled feta cheese. Add chopped kalamata olives, artichoke hearts, tomatoes (and whatever veggies you may have in those meal prep containers!) before filling the rest of the jar with chopped romaine lettuce.
Cold Zucchini Noodles and Pesto
Toss together zucchini noodles and pesto, and place about a cup of the mixture in the bottom of a pint jar. Top with grape tomatoes, cooked and chilled peas or whatever you’d like from your meal prep containers filled with veggies!
Strawberry and Spinach Salad
At the bottom of a quart jar, layer a half cup of sliced strawberries with two ounces of crumbled goat cheese, a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and two tablespoons of chopped walnuts. Fill the remainder of the jar with baby spinach for a summery salad on the go.
Written by: Elizabeth Withkowski, N.C. - Certified Nutrition Consultant